The Story about My Menstruation

I have a confession to make. This is something that I usually avoid discussing with people, but lately I’ve had a lingering question that rose after reading a book. It’s a graphic novel titled “Are You My Mother?” by Alison Bechdel. Although only in a small portion, Bechdel mentions several times about menopause. Suddenly I have a fear of menopause.

You see, when I was young my parents indulged me with food. When I was five or six KFC had just developed several franchisees in the country. It was pretty much the first fast food joint to be established on where I lived, and everyone was hyped. Apparently, I’d loved KFC so much that Dad brought it home nearly everyday.

I was in second grade when I arrived home, went into the bedroom I shared with my elder sister, and she immediately pointed to between my legs yelling, “There’s red on your panties!” I looked down and, sure there was, a big red stain.

At an age that young, I did not understand the concept of “menstruation” or why I should keep it secretive from male friends. I was actually proud that I had something that seemed unique – none of my friends, not even my sister, had had period – and even more, that everyone seemed to treat me specially when it came to the menstruation topic, so I talked about it with my female friends. Four years later, I’d had a girl asked me in the washroom if it was true that I got my first menstruation when I was in third grade. Ashamed enough to have it at a young age and to have an acquaintance asked about it, I didn’t correct her that I actually got it a year earlier. After that incident, I stopped talking about my first menstruation with anyone. Actually, I barely talk about my periods, but it’s only because unlike my friends who have it rough – accompanied with cramps, physical exhaustion, mood swings, unsteady flux and a boost in appetite – my periods are normal, if not barely noticeable apart from the appearance of blood. The fact that my periods have been pain free and unobstructed in flux is the only thing I appreciate.

To this day, even though I feel deep guilt whenever I thought about this, I’ve been blaming my parents for my early menstruation. I blamed them that I am now the shortest in the family. I used to blame them that I’m overweight, but I’ve accepted it now because I realized that I could fix it. Height isn’t something I can fix. I truly wish I were taller. I’m working on this issue with myself right now.

Anyway. It was not until I was in either fourth or fifth grade when an optometrist, noticing my unusual height (I had a growth spurt from second grade to seventh grade and stopped growing pretty much since), suggested that my parents brought me to a hormone doctor. I remembered that his last name was Batubara (it means “coal”). He examined my breasts for several minutes and then asked Dad and I to wait outside so that he could have a talk with Mom. During the examination, however, he remarked that it had been too late to make any corrective attempts.

I never got to hear his full explanation since my parents never brought it up anymore. I never asked too. I never had a concern about it until lately. The only question I’ve asked my Mom when I was in high school was, “Had I got menstruation at the proper age, would I have been taller now?” She looked at me for a moment. I can’t remember if she looked surprised, but I remember getting a vibe that it wasn’t something she’d like to talk about. I can’t even remember if she looked at me while answering or looked away, but she said, “Maybe.” After that, I avoid bringing up the issue with Mom again. However, that one remark by the doctor alone is enough to fuel the blame on my parents, that had they brought me to a professional earlier, I might have been “corrected.”

This issue had been forgotten during the last years, but now that I’m reading this graphic novel, I’m reminded about it again. I start questioning if I’ll get menopause earlier. I learned that girls usually get their first periods around thirteen years old. If I had mine six years earlier, wouldn’t that mean menopause would also come six years earlier too? Will I get menopause when I’m in the early forties, or even perhaps in the late thirties?

Furthermore, is it too late if there ever comes a time when I want to have my own children? Will the any remaining ova I have be qualified enough?

The only thing I want now is to have a talk with Mom about what the doctor had said, to know the truth about what had happened to me instead of suspecting possibilities. I can’t do it now, though, because I’m far away from home and this is not something I feel like discussing on BBM or through Skype. I want a face-to-face conversation. A real, serious talk.

***

I wasn’t planning to write this too, but it came up to me suddenly and I wondered about it.

Last year my family (parents and aunt) were talking about my 10-year-old cousin who Mom suspected was going to get her first menstruation soon. She said that if so, my cousin would not be able to grow taller much more. Dad then said that it was possible, if my aunt was willing to do it, to bring my cousin to a hormone doctor and have her menstruation delayed so that she could still grow taller.

I wonder if he learned about that from Mom.

I asked him spontaneously if it could also make me taller. He commented casually that it was what we could have done if it weren’t too late.

I wonder if he ever felt guilty about it.

My aunt and Mom became silent afterwards and they moved to a different topic. I’m sure that what happened to me has been a common knowledge to my extended family that is uncomfortable to discuss, but thankfully have been learned. They must have learned not to do as what my parents did, not to feed their children fast food. I would probably become a legend in the family, the girl who had her menstruation too early, a valid character whose story would be told over and over again to new mothers and later generations as some sort of a “health warning.” I’m a living proof of it.

(P.S.: I’m reading a book titled “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser. I must be the gladdest person to know that health warnings about fast food on children have risen these days)

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8 Responses

  1. I have wondered about all the estrogen that chickens are pumped full of and the effects that eating the chicken has on girls. I used to love KF chicken too and also was an early bloomer. Some chicken plants now pump the chickens so full of it that the chicken’s breasts become too large for the chickens to be able to walk. They try to stand up but the weight from their breasts pulls them forward to the ground. I don’t eat chicken anymore, but I do miss it! Thanks for sharing your story, it was a great read.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ve also read about the chickens injected with hormones in the book Fast Food Nation. I personally still eat home cooked chicken and try to choose the safest-looking ones in the store now.

  2. I’ve never of that but I’m sure it’s very possible. Hormones rule women, no doubt about that. If I was you I would really want to know what they said, maybe if you keep pressuring your mother to tell you she will. Or you can just live your life for today and not worry about tomorrow, since there really isn’t anything you can do to change anything.

    • Thank you for dropping by. I’m sure that she would tell me if I ask her, it’s just that I’ve only had these questions lately and I haven’t got the chance to see her in person. I agree, living for today is more important than worrying.

      • Someday you will get an opportunity I’m sure, I couldn’t imagine having a period start as young as your’s did. I started showing signs of menopause when I was around 40, I thought that was young, it caught me off guard.

  3. An intriguing discussion will probably be worth comment. I feel that you basically write much more about this topic, it may become a taboo subject but normally consumers are inadequate to communicate in on such topics. To yet another. Cheers

  4. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing
    this article and also the rest of the site is
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  5. Have you ever thought about writing an ebook or guest authoring
    on other websites? I have a blog based on the same ideas you discuss
    and would love to have you share some stories/information.
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